Connect And Protect: Finding stability with Backup Exec 12.5
I've already written an article on how we moved from ARCserve 11.5 on about 34 sites to Backup Exec 11D, detaling all the issues we had and how we got around them, so this blog deals with moving to Backup Exec 12.5 and why we did so!
I am a storage engineer for an outsource team, looking after a very large production company with sites across Africa and Asia.
Over the course of around 18 months, we were running Backup Exec 11D (first rev. 6235 which was problematic from the start), and then on to rev. 7170 (which brought more stability, but only just). With our initial financial considerations for moving over to BE moving out the way (ARCserve licensing would have worked out more expensive to relicense than to buy a new application with licenses!), the focus turned to getting stability in the backup environment. Backup Exec had been chosen as it was cheaper to license, support seemed better, and with the problems using ARCserve being an almost constant daily thing, we needed to look elsewhere. It had become a daily task to fix problems, and we needed to have software in place that would simply work!
Backup Exec 11D rev. 6235 was a problem from the start. Installations would either corrupt immediately, or backups would just not work. yet on other sites, we'd have no issues. An upgrade (during the same project) to rev. 7170 worked to a point.
Technically, Backup Exec was far superior in my mind: notification was a key issue for me, as the alerts that could be configured were more comprehensive. I could push out remote agents to servers through Backup Exec, without having to log on locally to each and every one (saving time!); drivers were never an issue with Backup Exec
I had come close to ripping out Backup Exec 11D and replacing with another application, when licensing time came around again, and we bought licensing for Backup Exec 12.5. The reason for this was that it was the latest product, and we were able to upgrade the contract and licensing immediately.
So I began another project to get Backup Exec 12.5 installed on the 34 sites. The biggest problem here was how to leverage slow bandwidth on the African continent, and it eventually came down to using WinRAR to compress the BE 12.5 installation into smaller files, and then robocopy across our WAN at night.
The upgrade process was painless. No issues carrying data across, no failed or corrupt installations either. This was the first indication that BE 12.5 could actually be the product I was hoping it would be: stable backups; no issues with hardware; no backups stopping across the board with the same error for no reason etc.
Service Pack 1 was immediately applied, and the jobs that had been configured prior in 11D just worked. No changes needed to be made. From this point of view, I closed the project off as being successful.
Backup success rates were very low initially in 11D due to a combination of hardware failure; driver issues; site reps not changing tapes etc. However, from a software-side, BE 12.5 is far better for us. It might be slower, but so far it has been solid. I have logged less calls in the previous 5 months for 12.5, than I did 5 months prior to upgrading from 11D, meaning more time to sort out niggles in our environment. As such, where I wanted to move away from Backup Exec, when it comes to licensing time on the 1st December 2009, I will, for the first time, readily suggest we relicense the application.
The issues I have had have mainly been around restoring from Exchange using tapes created in 11D. A patch was released around this, but it was more for restores going forward. Other issues have been for a service account that seems to lose it's authentication once services were restarted (the solution was anything from repairing the database through beutility, to putting in the service account details again). I have noticed that some servers that gave issues when backing up using 11D (specifically the VERY few Windows 2000 Server servers we had), not back up in 12.5.
So far, the issues have been minor, and the success rate is increasing monthly, which is always a good thing!]
Symantec has been the right choice because:
1. My backups have stabilised in a short period of time. I still have issues, but these are hardware-based, with 1 call currently open with SYmantec Support.
2. Getting information has been a lot easier than with ARCserve. This has helped cut down on time spent trawling the Internet when I could have been doing other work-related things.
3. Support from Symantec is top-notch. I haven't had a call (except for the Exchange restores issue) that hasn't been solved. The shortest has been a couple of minutes, the longest taking a couple of days. Updates were sent through regularily, and that gives a measure of comfort to know that someone is actually still working on your case.
4. Ease of use: pushing out Remote Agents via Backup Exec (patches too); easy location of drivers, patches and service packs on the Symantec website.
That's my Connect and Protect Story! =)